tv [untitled] July 12, 2012 8:00am-8:30am PDT
>> and soon afterwards. everyone started complaining. there was almost crying and and it's the same story. and soon the neighborhoods got fed up. there is too much, there are criminal elements and sitting here tonight i heard the same thing. like this was purposely done to try the strategy that has been used before. so i hope that is separated from this and but, for this project cannot go forward, thank you.
>> linda chapman for knob hill neighbors which fought a project once before. i thought 13000 sacramento was the worst thing that happened to knob hill. at least they kept the homeless and blight inside for the seven years that we fought them until we stopped it. during that time, it was recognized as such a threat to the city that all of the neighborhood groups came in and we had a list of 45 organizations including coalitions of churches and everyone else. we have to remember who is the owner here. it is the methodist church. the methodist church needs to get an alternative. they need to stop coming in with this kind of project. you have to use the no project alternative that is considered in the e.i.r. and vote no. and then eventually they will come in with something that will eliminate the blight whether it be partial restoration which we hope will happen or whether it be a project that is compatible with the neighborhood. this is a perfectly decent
looking building. south of market. we are in a neighborhood as you probably remember that is in a studied historic district because it is so consistent. it has not been wrecked by something like this. you put a building like that in there and how can it any longer be considered to be a potential historic district. the precedence, well, you know with 1300 sacramento, i started to mention, you know, there was a man who was using a certain technique for being able to build something that the planners didn't really want and pretty soon, there was a proposed demolition, applications on three sites within two blocks and two others were all lined up, too. because we were holding the line on it, the others backed off and eventually timothy dropped it and then we went in court on 13000 sacramento and stopped it. if we hadn't.
people would have been demolishing perfectly good residential buildings all over. similarly here, although this is not a residential building, people will use this kind of technique for a contract for demolition in order to stop anything happening except what they want and they will use this against other historic buildings throughout the city against other architecturally significant buildings throughout the city against buildings that are compatible with the neighborhood. there will be no end. all neighborhoods will be threatened. now, i was really impressed with commissioner fong's understanding of this site, of how important it is to have this open space to setbacks. we used to have a bench there, we planted trees there and so on. we could have a project there which either reused the church or even if it didn't, that had little green open spaces. it was consistent with the neighborhood and that provided some kind of actual community use like we used to have in the church because it's true, we have no community centers. anyway, the engineer's report for example for $23,000 i priced an elevator that would
take care of this kind of thing without demolishing the sanctuary. >> hello again, i'm rowena genn. where you put the picture, is that here? president fong: yes. right there. >> i want to show a photo, i don't know how to get this thing to work. president fong: it will turn on. >> once you start speaking, it will come up. i just want to say that this church has been on the corner for a century and there are a lot of neighbors who don't want to get involved, they don't speak english like this neighbor who lives in the building next to the parking lot, not the first one, but the second one. every morning, it looks like
his daughter because he is disabled and handicapped. and he sits in front of the church every morning for his little walk and exercise. every morning he is sitting there. it doesn't matter if there are homeless people there or if the church is -- the paint is peeling, it's in bad condition. but it's still like a resting place. it's quiet. there is not a lot of activity. it's like a resting place. there is a lot of open air and regardless of the condition of the church. i just want to say a lot of people don't know what is going on. they don't have the notices or the tenants or seniors that are in rent controlled housing and their rent is very low. this will really impact their lives. they don't even know how much it's going to impact their lives. they have no idea what this huge building would do to them. that's why we're asking you to look at the adaptive alternative that is far superior and what the
neighborhood is used to. people don't know what is going on. the landlords in other cities. they don't want to speak up or get sued. it's a tense situation and has been going on a long time. it's not good for the city. it's not good for the neighbors. it's not good for d.b.i. i heard all of these rolling noises and i thought it was homeless rolling through the cars recycling. so midnight to 2:00 is the time when people come out of the bars. the kids are just getting rowdy, fighting or something. i have a few more seconds. i can show you the photo of more windows removed which is consistent with just damage that i have been looking at right out my window for the
last since this thing started. the church, you see this one. windows intact right here. the windows over here to the right. now you can see on the ones with the holes. they turned off the camera. >> i'm afraid your time is up. i thank you for sharing that. president fong: is there any additional public comment? commissioners, joseph butler, an architect here in the city. every aspect of this proposed project is premised on the inevitability of the c.u. authorizations and the variances required. the c.u. authorizations drive the unit count.
the c.u. authorizationed drive the type of construction that the building will be made from because of its height at 65 feet and they drive the need for the variances to get enough cars on the site for all of the housing units. so when you look at the inevitability of the c.u.'s, you have to wonder what it is offering this project to the community. yes, we need housing, but what does the community get from this, too tall, too bulky project. they get reduced light and air. so if the community benefit was the retention of significant portions of the church in a scheme to provide housing, that's something that c.u. process might be able to reward with additional height. but to simply say that we're going to take away this cultural resource from the neighborhood and max this site out way height and bulk that is inevitable because it says they
can do it in the c.u. is the wrong premise. there is no benefit that is here from approving the project that is before you today. you have certified an e.i.r. now, but the preservation alternative that was reworked in the e.i.r. would give you two pieces of skin of the former church behind the six-story building that has nothing to do with the function of the church or the piece of skin that's been left behind it. if you look here, it is an assisted living center. it was put together with the congregation shalom's jewish temple. there was a vacant lot next door that allowed them to build some new next to it. that is typical of the way a project could be done here that would honor the church and its mission at the same time retaining a significant portion of that architecture and
providing housing either for assisted living or for senior housing, something, even if it's market rate, but something that leaves a significant piece of the church then perhaps a c.u. could be granted for some additional height or some bulk. but not the way it's being done now. there is no justification for the c.u.'s given the project that is before you and the demolition that has to occur to make it happen, thank you very much. president fong: additional comment? seeing none, the public comment portion is closed. commissioners, commissioner miguel. commissioner miguel: yes, comments to several people. with due respect for reverend brown and also i'll include his counsel, mr. egan, it is my
opinion that as owners of the property, you have been very, very poor stewards of the property and as men of cloth, you have not ministered to the neighborhood. i know that is not a planning issue, but it's something that i had to say. and there were ways of doing it. i understand that the so-called respected for its time, church architect hired a bad contractor. that's not your fault. no one is trying to say that. i can't accept the fact that there is nothing to be done.
as to mr. burchell as the architect, what you're presenting is better than what we have seen before. i'm not sure that is saying a great deal, but that is better than what we have seen before. as to your slides showing the envelope, that is a ploy i guess the term is that nearly every architect that comes to us on a major project says here is an outline of the entire lot at 65 feet or 85 feet or 40 feet or whatever it happens to be and look how i'm less inside of it. it doesn't mean anyone was expected to build out that block envelope. i would just like to ask staff if they would clarify for the public the 40 and 65-foot
comments. >> commissioners, acting zoning administrator here on behalf of scott sanchez. this property is located in a 65 a height and bulk district. what it means is that the mapped zoning envelope is 65 feet. however, throughout the city in any r district, any residential district, any project that exceeds, extends beyond 40 feet in height automatically requires conditional use authorization. so it's sort of a layered effect where you have both an ultimate envelope of 65 feet, but again any development between 40 feet and 65 requires your conditional use authorization. commissioner miguel: thank you, i just wanted that clarified so that everybody understood where the two numbers came from.
i might, and i say that very definitely, might be more satisfied if you slipped in the fourth floor, and i say this not to knock off the sixth floor because some of the setbacks on the upper two floors could still work with the whole thing coming down. so slipping out something like the third or fourth floor and bringing it down so that the setbacks on the then remaining upper floors were there would start to satisfy me a little more. i still am in a situation as long as we're over the 40 foot of necessary and desirable, i am of the opinion, strictly personal, that 4,000 square foot penthouse is neither
necessary or desirable and that if you did bring down a floor, that top level could be divided into several units and make up some of your unit count. i may have more to say later. president fong: commissioner antonini. commissioner antonini: thank you. one of the early speakers mentioned it was a neighborhood of crossroads and i think in some way they really characterized what is going on here. there are a lot of very good things going on, but there are also, this has been a challenge. i did hear some other height reports here and i'm not sure if they're accurate, staff can correct they if i'm wrong, but the explanation was made on the 65-foot envelope and then the 40-foot above which you need a c.u. it's been presented that the church or the highest point of the church is 55 feet. i'm not sure if that is correct
or not. and project sponsor claims their highest point is 63 church is 65 feet. the project sponsor says it is 63 feet. there is an adjacent building that is reported to be 645 feet. there is a step down from the building too many of the buildings in the area, although there are some fairly large immediately adjacent. one thing that was interesting was the why the support of neighbors by the map presented in the testimony. they were very supportive of the project. i think that was instructive. a lot of people live in the neighborhood, a lot of people have jobs, but are not always able to come out and testify when projects are in front of them, but when asked during conversation if they are
supportive, they often are, but not supportive enough to come to a hearing that lasts six hours or they are astounded when the products that are beneficial for the neighborhood are not approved. they asked me, why didn't you vote for that project? i say, i voted for it, but i cannot get four votes. in any case, it is nice to hear there is support. it has been presented, questions about what would that cancel out. we received the report at the hearing, substantiated, and they did a very involved economic analysis of all of these alternatives, including just returning the church to a shell, not doing any improvements. that was $5 million just to bring it to a shell. we know that it has no steel structure, that there was no paper, it was stucco, and is
basically under reinforced masonry. these kind of buildings when they go through a couple of earthquakes and 100 years of use will oftentimes deteriorate. it was pointed out that all of the alternatives did not pencil out economically. i believe them, there are a fairly reputable firm. they substantiated what they had done. i think that answers that question. i guess the question is, how are we going to make this a project that will be acceptable for the site? i have heard a few things said tonight. i have heard a number of speakers say they would be happier with a five-story building, maybe at 55 feet. i don't know what the height would actually be. i agree with commissioner
miguel that possibly slipping a floor out and still scalping the building in the manner that is done now might be a solution. i think the building is fine at the height that it is that, but we have to be realistic about what can be approved and what the neighborhood that has spoken tonight would be supportive of. i think we may have to ask the project sponsor if there is the possibility of making some of these changes. other things that i heard tonight that might be things that could be done, i heard about a community meeting room. i know that is functional, because of the size of the project. maybe some car share spaces. we are only two over one-to-one. i compliment the architect on creating corners that are much more open, perhaps areas that
may be able to sit, as reference to the gentleman that comes down every day. that would be a nice feature if there was an area there that was secure. even though it is private land, if there was a place that people could arrest or at least have somewhat of an opening -- if there was a place that people couldn't rest for at least have somewhat of an opening. it is an extremely good idea for the terrorists. often, balcony's look like for appendages on the sides of buildings. the way he has worked this, they are bay when this. when somebody wants to go out, they bifold inward and it turns into a balcony. that is an extremely good feature that i hope that we see more architecturally. some of the benefits of this building, people asked why we
would have a potential landmark and have an overriding circumstances, one of them is the economic benefits for the neighborhood. there seems to be a lot of discontent with people moving in who may be of a higher income, but they do spend money. that money goes to the committee in which they live. i think there are a lot of benefits to having people there. hatfilthe tax benefits alone ar0 times the current property taxes, so the city does very well. we would expect the 27 units might bring us 15 new residents, all of whom would have to eat and spend money in various ways. i think that would be of benefit to the neighborhood. recently, there was a report in the chronicle today that talked about a new record for business
and professional jobs in san francisco at 211 jobs. obviously, there are a lot of people who may want to live here and who can afford to live here. instead of them living somewhere across the bay or far away, they can live within the community and be contributing members. you have to address that, too. at the other thing that was brought up was the possibility of having the affordable housing on site. a project like this, especially if we cut down the sides a little bit, you may end up with fewer units. it may be more cost prohibitive to have it on sight because the hoa's will be high and it does not work for the people who are there. the money would be much better used by the mayor's office for housing, perhaps they could even find a usage in the neighborhood to put in affordable housing
somewhere in the neighborhood. i think there are a lot of good things about this project. i don't know how the other commissioners feel, but i would certainly be very open to asking the project sponsor some of the suggestions i made, if it were possible, and perhaps continuing this item to a time where they could work with the neighborhood. mr. virgil, could you address that, please? i made some suggestions. i know it is a lot asked, but these might be the kind of things that might make the project more acceptable to the public that spoke tonight, as well as some of the other commissioners. >> my insurance would be yes. commissioner antonini: ok. >> there is a very unprofessional expression, but there is more than one way to skin a cat sometimes. the meetings of the past week or two, there have been different
suggestions that have come out. we have developed one possible option that could immediately meet neighborhood half way, which you saw today and the examiner. we could reduce the height to 59 feet and retain much of what we have seen in the building. everything would come down. that would not reduce the number of units. it would give us an opportunity to perhaps keep it on sight. i cannot speak to the developer as well as he can. additional sculpting, which is a condition of approval, that the planning department has asked for, is in the conditions already. it would obviously change some of the bedroom count
potentially. we have looked at some -- the syllabus? we have made some suggestions about pushing in one of the floors to reduce the mass of the building. if that is possible, a couple of structural gymnastics, we would lose a couple of bedrooms, then, yes, i was at the beginning. there are a number of different options. commissioner antonini: okay, thank you. i would think, i don't know how the other commissioners feel, but it would seem the process would have to be done over a few weeks, to redesign the building in a way that would be acceptable. i am fine with the building has designed now, but i think some of the suggestions that were made by the public, being made by the commissioners might necessitate that. the the thing i would address, you have to work with your neighbor who is very supportive
and see if we could reach a compromise with her as to maybe not the property line windows again, but some other things they were concerned about at -- i forget the address, immediately adjacent to the property. at 1630 clay. commissioner antonini: this is why i am not making a motion to continue, but i am probably inclined to do that because i think it would be very productive to do that if we had a couple of additional weeks to be able to refine these changes and perhaps bring greater acceptance from the community to this project, which is potentially a very good project. >> thank you. >> if you don't mind, i will jump in. while in the past i have supported many projects that create jobs and more housing, this one i feel is too large. i feel that it does not make any
attempt to sculpt to the geography of the hill, does not step down the hill. we have seen that projects can design for that. the setbacks i don't feel our setbacks. not in the way that we have seen good architecture in san francisco. at this point, i really have to side with -- i am not going to say with the neighbors, but the neighborhood. i am curious as to what you all think. i could support a denial or approval with major conditions. i feel that the architect, if he cannot walk off a tight right now, he has had weeks, months, years to do that and has had failed attempts to work with the committee. i'm kind of hesitant to have a continuance and have him work it out again, but if you really want to play those games.
coming up on the 11th hour, at 10:30 at night, to redesign your building, that is a risk. but it seems like maybe you want to do that. i cannot really speak to the tactics of deliberately letting that building, a church, go to a blight condition, it certainly seems like that. i think that is abusive, this respective to -- disrespectful of the neighbors. commissioner borden: when you talk about necessary or desirable about a product in a neighborhood, part of it is that we give credence to the project sponsor they will execute a project that is desirable and necessary to the neighborhood in the way that we asked them. this church indicates that the project sponsor and as people involved are not genuinely interested in the neighborhood.